Rebels fall short against Commodores
By Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]
A number of hoops fans would have slightly slumped shoulders over a 1-3 record, regardless of how deep into the season a team is. That record happened to belong to the South Central Rebels going into Saturday night.
Aside from Crawford County, the Rebels’ early-season schedule included matchups against some of the better teams in the Kentuckiana area, including current Class 3A No. 5 North Harrison and Louisville’s Holy Cross. That tough stretch continued Friday when the Rebels fell to Southern Athletic Conference-rival Borden to start SAC play.
Just a day after their 80-60 loss to the SAC-favorite Braves, the Rebels returned to Elizabeth once again to host Perry Central in hopes of getting their first home victory of the season. In a tight, physical battle between a pair of athletic ball clubs, it was ultimately the boys in green who prevailed as the Commodores escaped Elizabeth with a 47-44 victory.
“(Perry Central’s) athletic, and it’s not that we’re not athletic, but they were a lot bigger than us, so we wanted to do whatever we could to try and keep the ball away from the rim as much as we could,” Rebels’ head coach Greg Robinson said. “We were able to accomplish the main thing, which is keep the ball in front of us as much as we could.”
The contest was a contentious affair from the opening tip, with both sides having a difficult time extending their lead beyond a single possession.
The Commodores were led in the period by Andy Bishop’s eight points alongside a bucket from Cole Hess. The Rebels countered the Commodores’ inside attack with a pair of threes, courtesy of sophomore Christian Kiper and junior Ty Jones, who each led the Rebels in the quarter with five points. Freshman Cole Thomas added a bucket of his own to give the Rebels a slim 12-10 edge.
That lead only lasted seconds into the second quarter before Hess swiped the ball, flying to the rim with a two-handed dunk, much to the raucous applause of the green-clad Commodores’ fan section. The Commodores also saw contributions in the form of six points from Camiren Etienne and a bucket from Corbin Haughee in the period. The Rebels had a limited attack in the quarter with baskets from Kiper and junior Jack Schmelz, alongside two free throws from sophomore Ethan Hedden, which was enough to get the deficit to 20-18 in the period’s waning seconds.
The Commodores had the last word before halftime when Etienne opened fire a step past the half-court line, sending the green-clad spectators into a frenzy as the ball tickled the twine alongside the buzzer. Rebels fans were stunned while the Commodores pounded on walls, doors and each other en route to their locker room with a 23-18 half-time advantage.
Etienne’s buzzer-beater meant little to the Rebels as they began the second half on a 9-0 surge, but the Commodores countered with points from a pair of Etienne triples and a Hess free throw. For the period, the Rebels had five points apiece from Jones and Thomas and four points from Kiper. For the second straight quarter, the Commodores finished with a buzzer-beater, this one coming on a putback layup courtesy of Bishop, tying the game at 32 heading into the final quarter.
“We had good energy in the first half; it was back and forth, and we told them (at halftime) that we could’ve easily let up. We just needed a couple scores and a stop or two,” Robinson said. “We came out in the second half with some really good energy, and I was really happy about that because our second halves have not been good.”
The fourth period saw the Rebels stick with the Commodores throughout most of the remaining eight minutes, thanks in part to buckets from Hedden and junior Joe Cundiff. The Rebels finally took the lead with just over a minute to go when Thomas made a perfect inbound pass to Kiper, who secured the last of his eight points in the quarter to take a 44-43 lead.
With the advantage, the Rebels’ defense forced the Commodores to throw the ball to their own bench as time was winding down. The Rebels’ subsequent possession did not last long before they threw the ball away themselves. The final 10 seconds saw the Rebels trying desperately to pull down one last rebound, only for Hess to draw a foul after pulling down multiple offensive rebounds. One last timeout from Robinson did little to disrupt Hess between free throws, knocking both down to give the Commodores a 45-44 lead.
Despite leading all scorers with 19 points, Kiper could not knock down one last basket, his floater with two seconds left bouncing toward the hands of Bishop. Forced to foul with half a second remaining, Bishop converted on both freebies before the Rebels’ final inbound hail Mary was intercepted at halfcourt to secure the Commodores’ third win of the season.
“We haven’t talked a lot about end-of-game situations like how much time seven seconds is because we took a shot a little too quick,” Robinson said. “I wish I would’ve called a timeout.”
Alongside Kiper’s game-high 19 points, Jones added 10 points while Thomas chipped in seven.
Etienne led the Commodores with 18 points, while Bishop added 16.
The Rebels look to get back into the win column Friday when they travel to the city of New Albany to confront sectional-rival Christian Academy of Indiana. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Perry Central 10 13 9 15 – 47
South Central 12 6 14 12 – 44
Perry Central (3-0) – Etienne 18, Bishop 16, Hess 9, Haughee 2, Kellems 2.
South Central (1-4) – Kiper 19, Jones 10, Thomas 7, Hedden 4, Cundiff 2, Schmelz 2.
3-point goals – Perry Central 4 (Etienne 4); South Central 3 (Jones 1, Kiper 1, Thomas 1).